Home Planning & Renovations

Home Remodeling Mistakes: 7 Don’ts from Contractors

By Tiffany Smolick


Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

What you do during your renovation project is just as important as what you don’t do.

As contractors, we learned a lot of lessons on what to do and what not to do during a home remodeling project. A number of the lessons can help homeowners as well so we’re sharing seven of them today. 

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #1: Don’t delay decisions 

Want your remodel or renovation project to go well with as little problems as possible? Of course you do! The best thing to do is make every decision about your project before the work begins. 

A good contractor will discuss a list of situations that might come up on your remodel or renovation project with you, but decisions about those special situations aren’t what usually cause the delays. 

MyHome’s project manager Nick Zalli says,

“Most of the problems are usually connected to choices about small things such as faucet selection, paint, or trim choice.”

These may seem small and unimportant when you start your project, but when your faucet is two weeks late because of shipping, your plumber has to be rescheduled.  And, if the medicine cabinet door you choose hits the faucet when it’s installed, you’ll see how something as small as a cabinet door can balloon into a week or more delay on a four-week project.

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #2: Don’t change your mind too much

Changing your mind about aspects of your project is inevitable.  However, every time you change your mind it results in a change order. Even though the change may seem minor, there are usually additional costs to have them executed. The scheduling of your project can and will be affected as well.

If changes are made, make sure everyone working on your project is informed. This ensures that no one is working on the old plan and wasting time on your schedule or wasting money unnecessarily.

Our suggestion is to pay attention to the advice of your contractor, architect and designer. You should be each other’s sounding boards during the entire construction process.   

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #3: Don’t buy your own materials 

Buying your own materials may seem like an obvious means to save money.  You may believe that your contractor is going to mark up the cost of materials and pass that added cost on to you. However, homeowners don’t realize the many complications that can occur with home remodeling materials.

When purchasing your own materials, you risk losing money and time if things go wrong on a project.  The money homeowner save is often eaten up by having to pay additional labor for a contractor or purchasing extra materials if the original materials were wrong.  

First, ensure that all your materials and products are correct. Your projects floor plan measurements must be calculated correctly. The way a room’s dimensions are measured may be different from the way the contractor or designer will calculate them. 

Room dimensions can be taken several ways.  The total dimensions may be totally different from your contractor has.  Because of this, it makes it difficult for homeowners to make a fair comparison between different materials or products. Beware of this when comparing contractors and material costs.

Secondly, when purchasing your own materials, ensure they are delivered to the worksite on time and in one piece.  When you opt to buy your own materials, the logistics of getting the correct product to your home at the right time becomes solely your responsibility.  If you make any mistakes on your materials or if your materials arrive damaged, this may balloon your project timeline by weeks.  This can and will cost more money.  Also, if materials arrive earlier than expected, consider where you will store them until your project starts or they are needed.  

Pro Tip: If you strongly prefer to buy your own materials, ask your contractor, architect and designer which materials you can confidently get yourself.  Certain materials should definitely be left to your contractor such as wiring, concrete, and HVAC. 

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #4: Don’t work without a contingency fund

You should always set aside 5 percent of your original budget for a contingency budget. This fund is for some or all of the “what ifs” that may occur during your project. It’s almost unheard of that a person sets a realistic budget for a project. You shouldn’t consume your contingency to stretch your budget. 

If you heed tip number one and make every decision ahead of time, you can almost certainly get away with a 5 percent contingency budget when working with a good general contractor.

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #5: Don’t work without a design

If your project is a full renovation where walls will be removed/added or if your plumbing or electric will be drastically changed, these projects may benefit from having an architect on your team. At the very least, major renovation like these should consider working with an interior designer, and a talented contractor to incorporate your aesthetic and help you come up with a good plan.

Whatever you do, don’t start a renovation or remodel without a detailed floor plan. Floor plans allow you and your contractor to clearly see all of elements that intermingle in a space. All of your project elements should be put on paper, so you or your contractor can catch problems before they are built or installed. You can build a functional space without a plan, but if you want a space that’s both functional and gorgeous, our suggestion is to hire a designer.

If your project requires selections such as cabinets, stone, tile, stone, or paint, those will need to be specified in your plans and it will benefit you to find a designer to help with all of these details. Otherwise, you’ll be struggling through the hundreds if not thousands of options. Some architects and contractors may be willing to help you with finishes, but some may not,so ask if your team offers these services before signing a contract. 

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #6: Don’t take advice from the wrong source

If you watch any of the home improvement shows on television, this may give you a false sense that you know how it is done. However, your contractor has undoubtedly seen it all and therefore, you should put your trust in their ability.

Equally, you will find that everyone will have their thoughts and ideas during your project, including your parents, siblings, friends and neighbors. “Do yourself a huge favor and don’t listen,” says MyHome’s remodeling consultant Lior Noy.

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Home Remodeling Mistakes #7: Don’t overspend in underused areas

“Sound judgement should tell you to put your money towards the rooms where you live in the most such as the kitchen and bathrooms,” says MyHome’s Designer Ariel Ram.

Make good use of your budget on rooms like a master bathroom or a kitchen and you will see a greater return on your investment (especially, if you decide to sell your home).

Money saving tip: Spend less on items like lighting, vanities and closet systems in your secondary spaces since these areas aren’t the focal point of your home.

Contractor Tips for Your NYC Home Remodel

Remodeling your home can breathe new life and function into your space. Working with contractors, designers, architects and other individuals will ensure that your remodel is done well and on time. Using these tips, you can make sure your project goes smoothly and is a success.

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We hope you found this bit of information helpful, inspiring, and motivating toward making plans to renovate your kitchen and bathroom.

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